Twelve-year-old Li’l T offers an absorbing first-person account of a poor, tightly knit, multigenerational family’s experience in Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath, focused through the lens of Li’l T’s relationship with a special dog named Buddy.
Unlike other titles that deal with Katrina, this one eases up to the big event, enabling readers to establish a strong connection with the characters by slowly revealing how Li’l T and Buddy met and how Li’l T helped Buddy recover from the amputation of one of his legs. When the epic storm comes into the picture, readers find themselves as heartbroken as Li’l T when the family must leave Buddy behind in the evacuation. Li’l T struggles mightily during the family’s temporary stay in Mississippi, suffering the loss of his dog, the family home and, finally, his beloved and now disconsolate grandfather. When the family moves back to New Orleans, Li’l T learns that he just might be able to get Buddy back from the family in California who has adopted him. The scenes involving the neighborhood criminal element and some final plot twists seem a little contrived, but Li’l T’s voice and love for Buddy feel authentic, and those elements are enough to carry the story.
A touching tale of hope, of holding on when you can, and of letting go when it’s the right thing to do. (Fiction. 9-12)